How Does a Moving LED Display Work?

by Alex Burke

Moving LED Displays

It's hard not to see a moving LED display. They can be programmed to do whatever is needed to get a person's attention. Flashing or streaming LED displays can be purchased outright, rented or leased. They come in various sizes and can be designed for indoor or outdoor use. Some are programmed to display a particular phrase or set of phrases and others can be connected to a computer and altered from a software application. The movement of an LED display is achieved through simply turning the diodes, or LEDs, on and off in a sequence that moves in one direction. This gives the appearance of movement.

LED Display Components

The main component of an LED sign is its electronic board. The board is a grid of light emitting diodes (LEDs). Some boards are filled with a single color diode, some are combinations of colors, and others are more sophisticated and contain bi-color or tri-colored LEDs. The color a bi-colored LED light emits is determined by the direction the display is traveling in. If it is moving to the left, then the color might be red and if the display is moving to the right then the color would change. If done with enough frequency, moving the light back and forth can create a third color. Tri-color LEDs are actually two LEDs in the same case, which are wired and controlled separately and can be lit simultaneously.

More LED Options

A simple flashing LED display is not necessarily programmed to flash. The flashing can be accomplished by using an LED that contains a multi-vibrator circuit which is created to flash in intervals. Typically the flashing is set at one second. Other LED possibilities are the RGB diodes that are red, green and blue which can be used to emit several, all or single colors. The alphanumeric display is also used. These are made as a starburst pattern or a seven segment pattern. Starburst patterns can display all numbers and all letters. Seven segment displays, an early type of diode display, are not used very often in modern moving LED displays because they are limited to numbers and a few letters.

LED Display Software

Display units may come with software that allows the user to schedule messages for a set time, location and date. Most allow the user to view the message before it is added. If a business or location has a network of displays, software can assist in managing the messages locally or through Internet connections. Remote management may require a converter box. More advanced programs will create personalized animation and graphics designed by the user.

About the Author

Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.